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There is also some uncertainty as to why a core sample could not be obtained.

One version has it that he broke or lodged his only long increment borer and could not obtain another before the end of the field season; another claims he broke two of them, while another implies that a core sample was too difficult to obtain and also would not provide as much definitive information as a full cross-section of the tree.

In addition, there are conflicting views of Prometheus's uniqueness in the Wheeler Peak grove.

It is reported that Currey and/or the Forest Service personnel who authorized the cutting believed the tree was just one of many large, very old trees in the grove.

By that standard, the oldest living organism is a grove of quaking aspens in Utah known as Pando, at perhaps as much as 80,000 years old.